How to Land a Government Contract

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A headshot of Katie Bigelow

By Katie Bigelow, founder, Mettle Ops

Government contracting is not for the faint of heart. The barriers to entry are high and the regulations are complicated and overwhelming. If easy money is the goal, government contracting is not the way to get it. We lose 99 bids out of 100. Can you take that kind of beating and keep going?

The first steps to government contracting are pretty simple. Register with Dun & Bradstreet. Don’t pay them or anyone else to do it. Regardless, of how it seems, it is a free service. They will give you a DUNS number. Use that to register in Sam.Gov where you will get a CAGE code. Don’t skip the opportunity in Sam.gov to complete the SBA Dynamic Small Business search. Read all the regulations that you are committed to follow. Next, register with Beta.sam.gov and look for opportunities to bid. When you find something that looks good, read the whole thing. That’s right. Read all 76 pages paying particular attention to the Performance Work Statement, Section L, and Section M. Submit your bid per their instructions. That’s it. Too easy.

I don’t actually know anyone that has made any real money doing it this way. No doubt there are people out there that simply followed the prescribed path and struck it big. More often, there are people that followed the path and ended up in the pokey, too.

The hard truth is that nobody in this business is rooting for you. I have never found a Government Small Business office that did anything other than put your name on a list and provide a PowerPoint presentation.

Government Contracting Officers, as a general rule, don’t want to do lots of small contracting actions for small businesses. They want to execute fewer contracting actions for big businesses with big dollar amounts. One of my first customers tried to offer me a $14 million contract. The contracting command gave us all a giant “NO!” We were too small, too new, too much of a nuisance.

“Go work for a prime for 5 years,” is the verbatim advice we’ve received from contracting officers. Large government primes have lots of attorneys, lots of money, and lots of shareholders to please. They use small businesses, strip the name of the small business off the work and offer it as your own. It’s not illegal. If you don’t mind, this may be the route for you. It’s not the route for me.

Here’s my secret sauce: Work really hard. Do all the things I mentioned in paragraph 2 and then work hard. We take every opportunity we can afford to meet people, to shake hands, to share what we’ve learned. We don’t shy away from making referrals, even if we get nothing in return. We wear our character on our sleeves, our business cards, and our websites. We were warfighters and always will be at heart. There is a standard of values that comes with that.

We are students of our industry. Take DAU classes. We read and connect and learn. We reach out personally to potential customers every single day. Our goal is to understand more about government contracting than even our customers know. We aren’t trying to outsmart them. We are trying to provide great value to them.

To date, I have only won 4 government contracts since 2015. The first was for $70,000, then $14 million, then $19 million, and the most recent another $19 million. Since I told you we won 1 out of 100 or less, you can do the math to see how many times we lost. Decide if this is the industry for you. If it is, call me. Maybe we can do it together.

Katie Bigelow is the founder of Mettle Ops, a woman-owned, service-disabled, veteran-owned, disadvantaged small business. WBE, WOSB, EDWOSB, NVBDC, CVE, VOSB, SDVOSB, U.S. Small Business Administration 8(a) Certified 2027

Landing Home—Now on Amazon Prime

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For many combat veterans, deployment doesn’t neatly end when their tour is up. The brain, once engaged at combat level, simply can’t turn off and pivot to the mundane details of civilian life in the time it takes to touch down on American soil. Returning home in any real way takes a different set of skills—skills that many veterans see as elusive at best. Maybe even impossible to attain.

To that end, “Landing Home” is a seven-part TV series that shares the compelling story of a veteran trying to adjust to civilian life after leaving the military. It deftly takes the audience into the mind of a combat soldier freed from duty but never free, pulls back the curtain on the lasting damage of war to the human psyche, and helps the viewer understand that returning home can represent only the beginning of a different kind of war.

Leaning into authenticity, the series includes more 20 veterans in cast and crew, many of whom saw action. Douglas Taurel plays Luke, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan. While he decides to leave the military in order to be with his family, he soon realizes that this is much harder than he ever imagined. Something as simple as a birthday party for his five-year-old daughter can quickly become overwhelming and trigger his post-traumatic stress disorder.

“My goal with the project is to give people a true sense of the emotional and psychological effect war has on our veterans and why it’s so hard for them and their families to assimilate back into normal life,” Taurel said. “We owe our veterans and their families so much. We all need to understand the sacrifices our men and women in uniform make and what their families endure. We can never thank them enough.”

WATCH THE TRAILER!

Taurel is best known for his gripping one-man play, “The American Soldier,” which has performed in 16 cities and 11 states with notable spaces like the Kennedy Center, Off-Broadway, Library of Congress, and the American Legion’s National Headquarters to name a few. This play also touches on many aspects of war and explores the sacrifices and challenges our veterans and their families face as they return home from combat.

“Landing Home” is available on Amazon, Amazon Prime and Vimeo On Demand.

The TV series will help the civilian population understand what it means to serve our country. To let everyone know that veterans face an even bigger, sometimes hidden struggle to adjust to a normal way of life.
– Joe Reynolds / Vietnam Veteran

So wish the whole world especially every Veteran could see it. What your work, art, craft, talent represents is “Something that matters in life”…don’t ever forget or DOUBT that!
– John Caoli / Iraq Veteran

I just purchased your series Landing Home and already in just the first episode I can feel the resurfacing of what it felt like for me 29 years ago. That is when I came home from a war to begin fighting my own personal battle. I am honored to know you and honored by the work you do for us!
– Lynn Santosuosso / Iraq Veteran

About Douglas Taurel
Taurel has been nominated for Innovative Theater Award as well as the United Kingdom prestigious Amnesty International Award for this work with The American Soldier. He’s appeared in numerous television shows including The Affair, Mr. Robot, The Americans, Blue Bloods, Person of Interest, The Following, Damages, NYC 22, Believe, and Nurse Jackie. The Los Angeles Times said his work on Nurse Jackie, “Nurse Jackie gets her most fascinating character yet to date.”

He was commissioned by the Library of Congress to write, create and perform his second solo show, An American Soldier’s Journey Home which commemorates the ending of the First World War and tells the story of Irving Greenwald, a soldier in the 308 Regiment and part of the Lost Battalion. He has performed the play twice at the Library of Congress.

Air Force Vet’s Business Franchises Take Flight

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Headshot of Don Stone

By Rhonda Sanderson

Don Stone’s entrepreneurial spirit first began when he learned to fly while serving in the Air Force. After leaving the service, Stone took his flight knowledge and chose to open his first business as a fixed-based operation, which is basically a gas station for planes, at a small airport in Colorado.

While it was a fun business overall, he faced challenges with the city and county governments that owned the airport. This experience helped him immensely for his next endeavor—owning and operating a franchise.

Stone’s first franchise was part of a 216-location hair salon company near Texas. After selling that business in 2000, he was immediately interested in purchasing another.

“My experience with franchising was what made me pursue future opportunities,” Stone shared. “I spoke to someone in Dallas about a mobile pet grooming business that wanted to expand and start franchising. Because of my experience with the hair salon franchise, I thought of using that same model to expand it, but instead ended up buying the business outright.”

After much due diligence, Stone realized it would be complicated to turn the mobile grooming business into a franchise. He was surprised to learn that mobile pet grooming salons are more complicated than the average person would expect, so instead of franchising, he kept the business as it was and it has since grown significantly. Stone now operates over 50 mobile grooming salons in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

As time went on, Stone continued to watch for a complementary business to purchase.

“I knew one of the founders of Pet Butler,” he said. “I watched the business as it grew and franchised.”

Once the Dallas/Fort Worth market opened, he jumped at the chance to diversify by adding a Pet Butler franchise to his current business model.

“It was easy for me to add on because we had the back-office services in place already,” Stone explained. “It was a great way to acquire a much-needed service, popular in the pet specialty services group.”

Stone was able to keep his focus on the same great services for pets in people’s homes or offices. He has a full-time manager and six scoopers—four having been a part of his organization for more than 10 years. And when Pet Butler was acquired by Spring-Green Enterprises in 2017, franchisees of Pet Butler received not only digital marketing help, but also back-office support—a huge advantage Stone says because he’s not tied to a desk.

The company’s National Call Center answers all calls from would be and existing customers, and provides immediate information to the franchise owner.

“Within minutes, we are on the phone with the customer solving any issues or schedule changes.” Stone said.

The back-office support team also handles customer billing and processes payments. Stone has also gotten his son involved with the Pet Butler end of the business, which, frankly, involves the back end of a dog! Stone has a dedicated, full-time Pet Butler manager, but he, too, scoops poop, and his son is learning to become a manager for the business by scooping poop as well.

“He will learn the business by doing, not by taking over,” Stone says.

In fact, all of Stone’s children are involved in both his Pet Butler and mobile grooming businesses. They came to them on their own, which was very important to Stone.

“It is interesting to get a different perspective from my kids,” said Stone, who is proud to build his businesses alongside his kids.

His advice to those veterans thinking about purchasing a Pet Butler franchise?

“You must have an entrepreneurial spirit, but you also need to follow the program,” Stone said, “The franchisor spends a lot of time and money on what works and what does not. A good franchisee will learn from that so they don’t repeat costly mistakes.”

Stone added, “If you’re in the pet business already or are looking for a business in a booming industry, take a serious look at this. Ninety percent of the things you need to know and do are already figured out for you. It’s a great business.”

Pet Butler was acquired in 2017 by Spring-Green Enterprises, the parent company of 43-year-old Spring-Green Lawn Care and SGE Marketing Services. They currently have 30 franchisees located in 26 states with plans to open 60 more within the next 5 years.

To learn more about how Pet Butler serves pets and their people, visit their website here.

To inquire about a franchise, call (844) 777-8608 or visit their website here.

Virtual Events Take Center Stage

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A woman in a military outfit looking at her laptop

By Innovate Marketing Group

As the live events industry awaits COVID-19 regulations, guidelines, and phase rollouts; innovations and digital opportunities arise, virtual events take center stage, and the importance of an events agency and planner sustains.

Why go virtual? Virtual events have proven to be an effective and efficient way to convey content and engage attendees. Experts shared that future events will incorporate a digital aspect as a hybrid-type model as the events industry seeks to widen their audience and maintain contingency plans. Events will see more virtual aspects embedded into their programs moving forward.

Going virtual also brings market share and new opportunities.
“Some companies that were previously on hold to wait out COVID-19 have either pivoted to virtual or seriously considering since the recovery is so uncertain. Business still needs to go on. Leadership conferences, educational and training are still vital for companies,” said Amanda Ma, chief experience officer of Innovate Marketing Group.

All of the different elements of a virtual event need to be coordinated into one impactful and engaging experience. The event agency’s role includes helping guiding businesses to pivot to the new normal, advising and adjusting contract changes, applying event strategies to help meet goals, vendor coordination and recommendations, program management and managing multiple tracks, marketing and communication, incorporating sponsors and stakeholders and the guest experience.

Some of the many benefits of pivoting to virtual include:

  •  Cost savings and lower cost per guest attending
  •  Access to a wider audience and reach, and not limited by location
  • Replay capabilities and reusable on demand content
  • Lower carbon footprint and less impact on the environment
  •  Attendee engagement
  •  Opportunity to get creative and engage viewers in new ways
  •  Metrics, instant data tracking and capture, and gaining new insights
  •  Virtual events eliminate the need for a venue, catering, rentals, stage, décor, photographer, videographer, transportation, etc.
  •  Taking action – calls to action link in right away; connect, survey, polling, Q&A and donate

Some challenges in comparison to a live event include emotion and energy, stimulations such as touch, taste and smell, memory and recall, networking, and viewer attention span.
Innovate Marketing Group also shares top best practices in going virtual, such as setting your goals on information, education, message, attendee and sponsor engagement, networking, etc.

Format: Determine your virtual event format – webinar, webcast, pre-recorded sessions, simu-live, live streaming, networking, exhibitors.

Registration: Reconsider the registration process, including number of users who will be accessing the website, personal data, payment processing safety, and customized questions per data you would like to collect.

Keep Your Audience Engaged: with tools such as live polling, question and answer sessions, networking opportunities, gamification, live leader boards, rewards and social media feeds. Maintain your event experience by making your guests feel involved and connected to your program. We are in the planning stages of a 3,000 people walk/run event, and one of the ideas is on the day of the event to have a virtual DJ play during the walk and the organization lowers the volume if messages need to be communicated. The music is based on what the organizers want. This way while people are walking, they can stay connected as part of the program.

Pre-Event Communication & Marketing: Communication and marketing are key. Unlike an in-person event where they must get dressed up, drive to the event, and spend more time to prepare for the event, a virtual event is simply a login to a platform. Therefore, it is very important to send out reminders and build up the anticipation of the event. In a recent virtual event, we advised the client to ask for the attendee’s cell phone number.

So, in addition to email reminders, the week of event and day of, a text notification was sent out to all attendees. We received great feedback for putting that in place. It reminded folks the virtual event is coming up and to tune in. Digital marketing, promotion, advertisement, and video content is still very important for a virtual event, before broadcasting on your event day.

Surprise and Delight Before the Event: Sending a swag bag prior to the event with items relevant to the event. For an upcoming conference, we are sending a box with a blue light blocking glasses, candle, custom door handle, notebook, T-shirt, and a coffee tumbler. We have a special note to go along with this kit to kick off the conference mindset. On the day of the conference, we asked everyone to wear the shirt provided. One less worry about what to wear on “top.”

Content is King: Offer educational, relevant, timely and meaningful content that people will want to hear. It is vital to create content that captivates guests, sparks their creativity and results in productivity.

Do Not Try to Replicate Your Live Event: Instead, look for new opportunities but stay true to purpose of your event. Keep principle of why your guests were coming together, and make it part of the equation.

Test, Test, and Test Again: Technical difficulties may occur, and it often distracts from your event. Have a run through with your speakers and moderator in advance and test the virtual release on your platforms.

What You Know is Only the Beginning

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Aliahu “Alli” Bey's Headshot

by Jackie Hobson

Aliahu “Alli” Bey is a husband, father of 3, and a US Army Aviation veteran entrepreneur. After gathering nearly two decades of engineering and project management experience, Alli decided he would prefer life without the corporate politics.

Utilizing his experience, he started his first small business, Haight Bey, in June of 2014. He spent 14 long months writing proposals from his basement and making ends meet by moonlighting at a small food manufacturer in the evenings and working as a boot and ski technician during the day at a local ski resort.

In July of 2015, he won his first Department of Defense contract worth more than $47 million dollars. Over the past 5 years he has added several Prime and Subcontracts to their project portfolio, and most recently stood up a cybersecurity compliance company called Totem Technologies.

Helping Other Veteran Business Owners

Bey volunteers his time and donates company profits to helping other veterans and minorities start and grow their businesses. He is a board member of the Utah African American Chamber of Commerce and Co-Chairman of the Warrior Rising board, a nationally-recognized organization that helps veteran entrepreneurs. Bey developed over 3000 square feet of incubator space within the Haight Bey and Totem.tech facilities. He currently supports two veteran-owned businesses— one is a USAF Minority Veteran, Woman-owned Human Resource startup called Pyramid Edge, and the second one is a USN-owned machine shop called Fox Machining.

Haight Bey workforce employees standing around a table
The Haight Bey workforce is comprised of over 60 percent veterans

Bey’s advice to those thinking of starting a business:

Stick to what you know: My first contract win was in support of a tactical weather system utilized by the USAF and Marine Corp. This was not luck—it was experience, patience, and relationships. I worked over a decade on this system for the manufacturer, and then as a program manager for a large Prime contractor. I assisted with engineering, deploying, servicing and supporting. I knew this system inside and out.

I had and continue to have great relationships with the manufacturer and the government program management team. What you know will get you started, but who you know, and better yet—who knows you—is a cornerstone in building and growing a successful company.

Focus on quality: Our chief cybersecurity engineer has always said to me, “Build a quality product and the customers will come.” We all know that nobody wants a cheap product that’s going to fall apart after a few uses. What we don’t understands as clearly is that a quality product requires a collective mindset of those around you. From my salesperson not over promising and clearly defining what will be delivered, to our project manager ensuring that we are constantly communicating and delivering exactly what our customers expect, everyone in the process must share the same desire of delivering quality.

A group filming Travis Bell's weather program
Program Manager Travis Bell, teaches the Air Force about their sustaining methods and support of their tactical weather program.

Don’t depend on your set-aside status: All too often I find within our veteran and minority business community individuals that expect to be handed business opportunities solely on their set-aside status i.e. Woman, Veteran, Minority, etc. In business, your set-aside status is a good thing, but if you have failed to focus on what and who you know, and delivering a quality product or service, your set-aside will never become relevant.

Get multiple mentors: You can never have enough people around to ask questions. I often seek advice on the same topic from multiple mentors, knowing each will have an answer based on their unique experiences. Sometimes I get widely varying opinions/answers, however, I have now been a mentee long enough to learn that no one answer or opinion is more correct than the other. This allows me to evaluate my issue from multiple perspectives, which ultimately leads me to make a better decision. Mentors don’t have to be formal. Many times, I ask for advice from co-workers or even a complete stranger.

It’s hard work: Let’s be honest—starting a business takes a rather large emotional commitment, so you must want this at your core. I spent years talking daily with my family and other business owners, making sure I was making the right move. I knew once I jumped in, it was all or nothing. Vetrepreneurship requires buy-in from the entire family, as there is usually a substantial financial and personal time commitment.

Jason Van Camp, my friend, mentor, US Army Green Beret and the founder of Warrior Rising, says, “I ask the same three questions to vetrepreneurs that I do when a guy tells me he wants to go to Ranger School or Special Forces: The first is, why do you want to do this? Second, what are you going to do? Finally, what have you done in the past to ready yourself for this?”

Photo Credit: Haight Bey Marketing

Want to Become Your Own Boss?

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A pair of glasses sitting on a book in front of a man in a suit with his hands folded

By Jessica Evans

Walmart. Nike, Fed Ex. What do these companies have in common They were all started by veterans, proving that we’re among the country’s best entrepreneurs. The reason? Well, that’s simple: Veterans already have all the skills that successful business owners need—namely the ability to lead a diverse group of people, understanding how to manage personnel effectively, and we have the grit and determination to see things through.

If you are considering starting a business, but aren’t sure where to start, here are a few tips to help:

Take advantage of the help that’s available

There are so many programs and resources available, so how can you tell which are legit and trustworthy? Your best bet is to begin locally. Start searching for veteran-entrepreneur groups in your AO first and then go from there. This way, you’re eliminating any groups that might try to take advantage of you, and you’re leaning on the experience of other veterans to help guide your path.
The Transition Assistance Program recently launched Boots to Business. This program can help you learn the bases of entrepreneurship and get a clear idea of worthwhile programs.

Lean on the Small Business Administration

The SBA has hundreds of Small Business Development Centers across the country and nearly twenty-four Veteran Business Outreach Centers that have cultivated resources specifically for veterans and transitioning service members. The SBA helps align you with mentors, learn how to market yourself, and explore lending options.

Consider opening a franchise

A franchise is ideal for veterans because it takes the guesswork out of starting a business. Having a corporate partner who knows the landscape and the industry makes most franchises “turn-key” choices. That’s one less stress for you as the owner and one more way that the business is set for success. When you don’t have to worry about marketing or coming up with an employee training manual, you have more time to dedicate to making your location flourish.

Franchising is so exciting because it gives you a chance to be your own boss without all of the headache and hassle of starting a business from the ground up. That doesn’t mean you don’t need to do your research. Remember that not all franchises are created equally, so you should be careful about what you select as your investment. Visit https://hiregibiz.com to search some military-friendly franchises.

Once you have a clearer understanding of the kind of business you want to run, you’re going to need some help navigating opening your business. That’s where Hire G.I. can help.
We offer free services to veterans and military spouses who are ready to start their own businesses. By signing up to speak with one of our certified business coaches, you’re taking the first step to your next great career. Visit www.hiregi.com for more information.

Source: Hire G.I. LLC

Construction Companies Offer Strong Parallels for Veteran Employment

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A man looking out on a construction site

By Phil Panzarella, Chief Growth Officer, Easterseals DC MD VA

When veterans transition from the military to civilian life, organizations work to break down barriers, engage communities and connect veterans with what they need for meaningful employment, education and wellness. Community services are needed to ensure unmatched, accessible and indispensable resources and support for veterans to ensure they successfully transition to civilian life.

Veteran services provided by Easterseals’ national network of 68 affiliates focus on developing inclusive programs, including valuable training for veterans to leverage their skills to secure meaning employment.

“Easterseals has been delivering critical services to veterans and military families since the end of WWII,” says Angela Williams, National President and CEO of Easterseals, and herself a veteran. “We continue to be the ‘go to’ resource for them to help ensure their successful transition to civilian life.”

Historically, veteran employment programs are funded by the government, which in many cases lead to veterans falling through the cracks. Easterseals DC MD VA recognized this significant problem and established the Veteran Staffing Network (VSN), a meaningful innovation in the world of nonprofit service delivery. The VSN provides job search training and career coaching for veterans and military spouses.

While the VSN assists veterans’ search for employment in all industries, construction industry connections have yielded great success in matching skills to opportunities. There are established parallels that exist between the military and construction skill sets, and many candidates have qualities that construction companies would value such as flexibility, dependability and accountability.

Military service trains veterans to be problem solvers, team-orientated, safety-conscious and respectful of the same kinds of hierarchical structures that exist in the world of construction. Ultimately, there are great benefits to be realized by employing those who understand the overarching aspects of complex projects. The attributes offered by veterans are a result of military service that directly mirrors day-to-day construction operations.

According to a study performed by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IMVF) of Syracuse University, veterans stay at their jobs 30 percent longer than their civilian counterparts. Countless careers in the construction industry are built around operations, and job loyalty creates a smoother operational base for long-term projects. Looking at the broader military universe, veterans are often qualified at the operations management level; they are accustomed to following complex plans, working collaboratively with teams, interacting with all aspects of diverse cultures and making things happen efficiently. Operational leadership is most often found in the enlisted corps as officers are trained for tactical leadership, senior management and operations execution. They lead the deployment of assets, oversee labor resources and develop strategic plans and relationships.

But in order for veterans to deliver their best work, companies must be willing to provide job training. Recognizing that veterans are highly experienced at learning quickly and deploying effectively, training programs are essential and valuable for 18-26-year-olds transitioning to civilian life.

Unbeknownst to most, the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is a product of the construction industry. To meet the prerequisites required to take the PMP exam today, one must have a background in project management. Many veterans leave the military with those skill sets, and nonprofit veteran organizations are there to help them identify that experience and prepare them to leverage opportunities. A veteran interested in learning whether they qualify should engage with an organization like the Easterseals VSN.

While working to connect veterans to meaningful employment, the VSN simultaneously works with construction companies and their veteran employees to create veteran-friendly workplace cultures. In general, creating a robust military culture is an organizational lift. One key aspect of such a culture is the appointment of an executive champion, who can drive the “we proudly employ veterans” message to a variety of external and internal communities, both horizontally and vertically.

Best practices that demonstrate veteran-friendliness include establishing veteran-specific links and landing pages on corporate websites, pushing job postings to channels that veterans often visit, and ensuring presence at job fairs aimed specifically for veterans seeking employment. With all that said, it’s incumbent upon the company to provide its recruiting teams with training on how to speak a veteran’s language.

Engaging with an organization that can assist with employment and help to establish the right program is a great first step to creating a veteran-friendly culture. The construction industry is an ideal area of employment for veterans to cultivate their top-tier talents in order to find their passions. By providing workplace diversity, construction companies create attractive careers for veterans interested in taking their next step in life.

To learn more about the Veteran Staffing Network, click here.

Don’t Chase Butterflies: Finding Purpose in Your Career

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USA army soldier holding yellow folder in hands

By Connie Russell, CEO C. L. Russell Group, LLC

If you’re fortunate to be employed today, it doesn’t always mean you’re excited about it. If you’re like many employees, it isn’t exactly filling you with joy to work every day. The reason may be that many employees misalign their purpose and their employer’s purpose, which have them constantly seeking a new job. Many people want to feel a sense that what you contribute everyday actually matters. It matters in a large way, so much so that it can change someone’s life or even the world.

As a young child, did you ever experience chasing butterflies? It was as if the harder you tried to chase to catch them, the faster it seemed they escaped you. However, once you would stop running, sit down on the lawn and simply watched…something magical happened! The butterflies would come to you and rest on your arm or leg. It was never for long, but just long enough for you to smile and enjoy the moment as if you accomplished something really big.  This is a feeling many of us want to experience at work. We want to know we make a difference. When you set out to actively look for purpose in your career, the harder you try, the harder it can be to find. Finding purpose in your work can be very much like chasing butterflies. Don’t run around anxiously, trying to find it. Instead, be patient and conduct a more thoughtful search. The meaning and purpose you seek will most likely appear when you least expect it.

Here are a few tips to help you discover a more purposeful career

Connect the dots

Where you start may be distinctly different from where you end up. Most people won’t discover their purpose immediately during their career. As you begin to follow what you’re interested in, you will begin to discover clarity as you explore your passions and different fields of work. Be open to embracing the uncertainties that comes along with this process. Know that you’re not expected to get it right the first time, or even the second. Continue to connect the dots along your journey. Soon, your dots will connect you with your passion.

Change your mindset

It’s all about attitude. Finding purpose in your work can have a lot to do with your attitude. Happiness and meaning often result when you focus on something or someone other than yourself. Practice having different perspectives in the workplace and remember: Everything isn’t always about you.

 It’s OK to look back sometimes. Examine your situation

It’s so easy for us to get wrapped up in our day-to-day “to do” lists or the next big project. When we do this, we sometimes tend to focus forward on what we have not accomplished. Doing this can make you feel defeated once again and question the direction you’re taking. Take a moment to reflect on what you have accomplished and the difference it has made for others.

Pursue a career path that fosters learning

While you’re spending time trying to figure out what your passion truly is, at the very least, pursue a career that encourages constant learning. You’ll not only discover what new skills you may find passion in, but you’ll also discover what doesn’t interest you. Make learning a lifestyle.

 Rediscover your ‘why’

What’s truly important?  Ask yourself these questions: What makes you come alive? How do you measure your life? If money wasn’t an issue, would you do for a living? What are your natural strengths? Those skills you’ve always been good at. Asking yourself these questions can help you get on the right track to discovering your passion.

Understanding your ‘why’ will also help you articulate what makes you feel fulfilled and better understand what drives your behavior when you’re at your natural best. And this is a great feeling! This will give you a point of reference for direction in life. Your choices will become more intentional for your career as well as your personal life. You will begin to inspire others.

Nothing is more satisfying than having a clear understanding of direction in your life. In the great words of Nelson Mandela, “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.”  Finding fulfilment in life starts with understanding exactly why you do what you do.

L. Russell Group, LLC is a workforce training consultant company, headquartered in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area. Visit clrussellgroup.com for more information.

 

Even Out of Uniform, Service to Country Continues

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Allen West giving a speech

By Annie Nelson

In my journey with our military and veteran communities, I have had the honor of befriending several amazing people. One of those men is former Army Lieutenant Colonel and US Congressmen Allen West. Lt Col West is such a wonderful man. He is a leader, speaker, author, former Congressmen and is now running for the position of head of the GOP (Republican Party) for the state of Texas.

Through Facetime we sat down and discussed a few topics to share. Mind you, it was just a few weeks ago that Lt Col West was in a terrible motorcycle accident going 75 mph. As an avid motorcyclist who has spent the last 35 years riding, he is truly a walking miracle today.

AN: After retiring from the Army was your transition difficult?

LCW: When I transitioned from the military to civilian life, it was a bit harder for me. We relocated to South Florida and I had to get plugged in to new surroundings, find veterans to connect with and get that veteran bond going. It’s easier if you retire and stay close to a military installation where you keep the bond of brotherhood/sisterhood. I think it’s so important for those of us who have served to stay plugged into our community after service. We support each other and have a bond like no other.

AN: How did you decide to run and win for Congress?

LCW: While living down in Florida, I was actually challenged by my friend, Donna, who said, “Just because you are not serving in the military does not mean you are done with your service to this country. You need to run for Congress and continue serving out of uniform.” So, it began. I feel it’s very important for veterans to run for office. We need veterans to lead this country! We took an oath and that is for life, so what better way to continue to serve once we are out of uniform.

AN: What was the biggest challenge serving in Congress?

LCW: The biggest challenge was knowing that the people you serve with do not necessarily follow the same values, ethics and integrity that you are used to in the military. That was the toughest part of the job and you never get used to it. It can be very enticing to be in Congress. Most look into the light and forget why they’re there and what they are supposed to be doing, which is representing the people. People head to Washington, DC as one person and, after being there a short time, become a typical politician.

AN: What was most rewarding in your years in Congress?

LCW: For me, there were rewarding times while serving when I was able to help veterans, look up their records, get awards given that were overlooked, etc. Truly helping my constituents out—that was the most rewarding part of the job.

AN: How do you feel about the current climate in the country?

LCW: I feel we are in an ideological war in this country today. We are a country ruled by law and order. Right now, we are being run by mob mentality and we must get a handle on it! We have not done a very good job with that. I like to use the analogy of the child throwing a tantrum in the grocery store. If you do not immediately discipline that child and demand that behavior to stop, you will always have a child throwing a tantrum.

AN: Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?

LCW: Proverbs 3: 5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him. and he will make your paths straight.” That would have to be my answer. I was just in a motorcycle accident going 75 miles an hour. We are doing this interview just 3 short weeks later. Everyone that knows motorcycles knows with an accident going 75 mph I should be dead. I am a walking miracle. So, I will continue to follow His path for my life staying true to God, Country and the state of Texas.

AN: What advice would you share with men/women about to transition from their service?

LCW: I would say first and foremost that you must stay plugged in to the veteran community. If you stay local or move away, get connected with veterans in your community. We as older veterans need to do better as well as be mentors for our newly transitioned brothers and sisters. I truly feel this is the first line of defense in the suicide epidemic we are facing now. The bond of the military brotherhood/sisterhood is strong and one that must carry you through your life.

AN: Where is the best place for people to follow you and what you are up to?

LCW: My website of course ~ and we are on other social media as well:

Click here for the Old School Patriot’s Website

Click here for Allen’s Instagram:

Click here for Allen’s Twitter:

Click here for Allen’s Facebook:

Thank you to Lt Col West and thank you to anyone who has worn the uniform for our great USA!

Empowering Veterans at the Seventh Annual Warrior Community Integration Symposium

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Sal Giunta and Clint Romesha

By Jim Lorraine, President and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership

The Warrior Community Integration Symposium has served as an annual gathering for the past seven years to empower communities to empower veterans, their families and caregivers.

Our team at America’s Warrior Partnership is transforming this year’s event into a free and virtual experience from August 25 – 27 that is open to all who wish to attend.

Sessions and panels will cover topics ranging from best practices for veteran-serving nonprofits to inspirational presentations from well-known veterans. Our goal is for every attendee to walk away with a greater understanding of how they can help make their community a more empowering environment for veterans.

Many presentations will focus on the transition from military to civilian life, and few individuals better embody the possibilities for veterans than our keynote speaker this year: Navy Lt. Cmdr. and NASCAR driver Jesse Iwuji. Iwuji graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and was deployed for a total of 15 months to the Arabian Gulf on two Naval Warships, and after transitioning to the Naval Reserves, he debuted in the NASCAR Truck Series where he had a Top 25 finish. Outside of racing and his Navy service, LCDR Iwuji owns a drag racing events company and a trucking business.

At the Symposium, Iwuji will share how he has managed the transition from active-duty service to professional sports and business management. His presentation will shine a light on the wide range of career and lifestyle choices that veterans can consider for their civilian lives. The diversity of possibilities for veterans is also reflected in the influential leaders who will introduce each event session, including:

  • Gary Sinise, Chairman and Founder, Gary Sinise Foundation
  • William McRaven, ADM (Ret.), The University of Texas at Austin, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs
  • Mike Linnington, LTG (Ret.), CEO, Wounded Warrior Project
  • Douglas Petno, CEO of Commercial Banking, JP Morgan Chase & Co.
  • Harriet Dominique, Senior VP, Corporate Social Responsibility and Community Affairs, USAA
  • Catharine Grimes, Director of Corporate Philanthropy, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation
  • Mike Hall, Executive Director, Three Rangers Foundation

Medal of Honor Fireside Chat

Another session aiming to inspire attendees is a fireside chat that Fox News anchor Jon Scott will lead with Medal of Honor recipients Sal Giunta, Clint Romesha and Kyle White. Each of these men served in the U.S. Army during the War in Afghanistan, and they will share how their military experience affected the decisions they made upon transitioning to their civilian lives. Their conversation will highlight the value that veterans can bring to their communities even after their service ends.

Empowering Women Veterans

The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) will lead a panel discussion on the evolving needs of women veterans, with leaders of WWP teams ranging from Physical Health and Wellness to Government and Community Relations contributing their insights. The panel will empower community organizations to better understand how they can collaborate with women veterans to create more effective services and programs.

Veteran Purpose

Harriet Dominique of USAA will introduce a session on the importance of veteran voices, including how veterans can be leaders within the workforce and broader community. Mission Roll Call Executive Director Garrett Cathcart will moderate the discussion with former Green Beret and NFL player Nate Boyer, Medal of Honor recipient Flo Groberg, and LinkedIn Head of Military and Veteran Programs Sarah Roberts. The group will focus on how veterans can make their voices heard on social issues and empower their community to overcome any adversity.

Veterans in the Workplace

Multiple sessions at this year’s event will cover workplace, employment and entrepreneurship topics for veterans. Misty Sutsman Fox of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University will moderate one of the first of these sessions with a focus on helping communities build stronger entrepreneurship ecosystems. Additionally, Douglas Petno, CEO of Commercial Banking at JP Morgan Chase & Co., will introduce a panel discussion diving into the many facets involved with empowering veterans to thrive in the workplace, from initial recruitment to their long-term career progression.

The full Symposium agenda breaks down each of these panels and other sessions that will take place over the course of the week. The agenda and information on how to register to virtually attend the event at no cost are available at AmericasWarriorPartnership.org/Symposium.

About the Author

Jim Lorraine is President and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership, a national nonprofit that empowers communities to empower veterans. The organization’s mission starts with connecting community groups with local veterans to understand their unique situations. With this knowledge in mind, America’s Warrior Partnership connects local groups with the appropriate resources to proactively and holistically support veterans at every stage of their lives. Learn more about the organization at www.AmericasWarriorPartnership.org.

Photo: Sal Giunta (left) and Clint Romesha

America Salutes You and Perfect Technician Academy Team Up For Veteran Community

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Since 2016, America Salutes You has been one of the year’s most anticipated concert events, previously featuring superstar performers such as Billy Gibbons, Cindy Lauper, Warren Haynes, Nancy Wilson, Trace Adkins, Andra Day, Stephen Stills and more.

The 2020 concert is set to take place this fall in Nashville, Tennessee at one of the nation’s most renowned music venues, The Grand Ole Opry House, and promises to be the organization’s largest and most star-studded concert yet with the help of one of their new sponsors, Perfect Technician Academy.

Perfect Technician Academy, a veteran-focused trades training school based out of Weatherford, Texas, and America Salutes You entered into a partnership for 2020 in an effort to push forward both organizations’ shared mission of giving back to and supporting America’s veteran community.

The nationally televised event has served to raise tens of thousands of dollars in public contributions to benefit a continuously growing number of organizations across the country working to aid and protect our military veterans and their families.

“Less than one percent of our population serves to make the world safe for the rest of us. Teaming up with and combining resources with Perfect Technician Academy is one way that we can help give back to the men and women who have paid the ultimate price on our behalf,” says Bob Okun, CEO of America Salutes You.

90% percent of all money raised through the fundraiser will be granted to nonprofit organizations benefiting veteran needs, including healthcare, mental health services, housing, education, jobs and career services, legal, financial readiness and much more.

The popularity and recognition behind America Salutes You, while due largely to the broadcast concerts, is primarily owed to the generous sponsors and individuals throughout the United States that resonate with the cause of the organization.

Donations will be raised via text and online fundraising during the broadcast, with all funds raised going to the America Salutes You Campaign. So, be sure to tune in this fall to enjoy a concert spectacular unlike any you’ve witnessed before and show your support.

About America Salutes You

The mission of America Salutes You is to honor and raise awareness of our veterans, service members, first responders and their loved ones. Together, with the backing of a wide variety of sponsors, partners, and celebrities, America Salutes You has become a premier veteran organization and an unrivaled television event.

SOURCE America Salutes You, LLC

Providing Business, DVBE. Employment & Educational Opportunities For Veterans

Clover Medical

Clover Medical

Verizon

Verizon Wireless

Central Michigan